My Daughter is Perfectly Average | Softball is for Girls
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When it all started out, I have to admit I thought my daughter was a super star. Like seriously the best ball player that ever graced the field.
She was 8 years old when she hit her first in the park home run and she could have run around the bases multiple times before the other team would have gotten their stuff together long enough to throw her out or make a play. She could catch, she could hit, she could run, and she loved softball.
She still does. But now we are in our second year of 14U – working our way through the A ball travel circuit, and if I am being 100% completely honest with myself, I have to admit that my daughter is a perfectly average player.
We, meaning her and I and her dad have been talking about her playing in college for a few years now. We have attended camps and some showcases, and we made sure that she was on the best team that we could find. We have pumped her up in our minds (an hers) to be some sort of catalyst that would get hand-picked to start her Freshman year for UCLA.
And, I will shamefully admit, up until recently I have been one of those parents. You know…the ones who think their daughter can do no wrong, that she is superior in some way. We all are to some degree.
That is part of having a child, we are there to be their biggest cheerleader. We all think our daughter is the best and get angry or defiant when others do not see her the way that we do. We have complained to coaches about playing time, and have somehow never grown out of our vision of her when she was 10 years old being the very best player on the team.
The SHEER and INTENSE pressure that we have felt as her parents, to push her and ensure that she did not miss out on any opportunity lest we forfeit her chances of playing at a higher level – has been unbelievable.
I have been caught up, immersed in it, fulfilling a prophecy of snobbery toward other softball players and teams, that I did not think existed inside me. When my daughters friends would ask her to pick up for a weekend tournament we would sit at the kitchen table and laugh and mock. As if….my daughter would play with THEM! Ha! What were they thinking????
But something has changed. Just recently, I have realized that in a sea of softball players – there are in actuality very few who are complete phenoms, or who stand out so amazingly that they would be recruited off their field by any collegiate coach who had an eye for softball.
Truth is, that my daughter (and this is hard to admit) – and maybe your daughter too – are just perfectly average players.
And you know what? That is actually perfectly OKAY.
I am not a failure as a parent because she is not the best player that ever lived. It is okay for me now to let other players shine, to recognize other players. It doesn’t take away from her if someone else has talent too.
They play (she plays) because they LOVE the game more than anything. They play because they want to be kids, and have fun with their friends. They play with BIG dreams of going all the way. Luckily for all of us, the doors of fastpitch are getting wider and wider – even for parents like me of (cough-cough) perfectly average players who do their best, work hard and play with heart.
Last week, instead of practice, our team went to a lower class tournament to play.
We were not playing for a berth, or for a qualifier. The coach moved the girls around a bit, let our 3rd and 4th string pitchers pitch more than pool play. And while our team was definitely coached differently, and fundamentally stronger – it hit me as I watched, that our girls – and the girls we were playing against were all perfectly average softball players. There were many more similarities than differences. I had walked in the tournament thinking it was ‘beneath us’ and walked out very humbled.
I had somehow, along the way – taken on this air or attitude about lower level ball. I was a snob. I would laugh inwardly at some of my friends whose kids were on local teams that simply played weekend after weekend, never venturing out to ASA. What was the point? They must suck, I thought.
I assumed, and yes this is awful to say which is why I will not attach my name to this FAN-FESSION – that those girls must really be terrible ball players. How could their parents be proud, or even talk about college ball with their daughters – when they were just average at best ball players? What did they REALLY know about the softball world?
But as I sat there, and started forgetting about what jerseys the kids were wearing and actually watched the games. Saw the amazing plays and the hits and the effort and the heart and the talent from ALL the teams, saw girls that could hit and field and run BETTER than my own daughter could, I realized that my daughter was merely average.
She is an average ball player on a stud big named team in Texas. Yes, there were some straight out of Rec ball teams there. And even those teams had some girls on the team that seemed to stand out from the rest, some better at playing ball than my daughter and her teammates and I sat there with my mind agape wondering what in the heck they were doing playing out here??? And it hit me again.
Then I saw, that the commonality on the field was stunning. Everyone is basically doing the same thing. And I also realized that had there been a college coach there watching, my daughter – the ‘phenom at 10 years old” would likely not have stuck out as amazing among the 250 ball players from all these no named teams. And it was humbling.
My daughter, she is amazing to me, but on the ballfield, she is just average.
The hard part for me at first was grasping that. I had put all our eggs into the softball basic, wearing my rose-colored glasses, and I became ashamed of myself. Will my daughter play in college? Probably. Mostly because we are paying a ton of money to be on a team that gets us in front of the best coaches around and because we bust our bootie to contact coaches and push our daughter in their inboxes enough so they cannot ignore her.
Plus, she’s good enough. But who really knows. When I was 15, I wanted to be a veterinarian and I ended up being a math teacher.
I guess my point is this. It’s okay to let up on the dream a bit, To entertain other options. And to admit to yourself that your daughter is not the best ballplayer who ever stepped onto the diamond. I won’t be telling my daughter that anytime soon, but I have began encouraging her in the other areas of her life that she is passionate about, and in some areas like music, where she simply does stand out among the masses.
Because what I realized is that I was pushing my dream on her, based on a feeling I had the first time she hit her home-run, and she really didn’t know or think, that she could think or know any differently than the path I had paved. I never gave her the chance. I can only wonder how much pressure that has put on her.
So. My apologies today go out to everyone who I thought I was better than because I thought my daughter was better than yours.
And while I think my daughter is amazing, and exceptional and a stand out in life – the reality is she is just an average girl, with an above average love of the game.
And that is absolutely PERFECTLY OKAY with me.
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